Decorating Ideas For Spooky Halloween Barn Bash
Each year my family hosts an annual Halloween Barn Bash at our farm in the country and it draws a nice crowd of friends who come to see the current year’s decorations as well as eat, drink and dance.
Our barn is 5,600 square feet, not including the 1,000+ square foot hay loft. The loft is a real treasure for decorating if your barn has one, but take EVERY precaution and use common sense when using electrical decorations and lighting in a loft that also has hay stored in it. Hot lights are a fire hazard, as well as electrical cords that could short out.
We like to entertain and dance, so our Halloween Barn Bash always includes music. We have a friend who is in a band and also owns a karaoke business so it is with great pleasure he comes to entertain and celebrate with us. However, not everyone has such a buddy, but they can still have great music with a good sound system. Just use what you have.
We decorate with a wide variety of natural plants and leftovers from the fall harvest on the farm. If you don’t grow things you can always find cornstalks for free from a local farmer or buy some. We have used the following natural items to decorate with:
- Pumpkins and Squashes of all sizes, shapes and colors. The weirder and uglier the better.
- Sunflowers: Dried up and brown make for eerie scenery and backdrops
- Wild Plants: No reason mother nature can’t kick into the Halloween budget of free! Look in the woods, beside roadways or in ditches for cat-tails and other natural vegetation. You just need dried, ugly plants anyhow.
- Hay, Straw, Alfalfa Bales or you might get pretty cheap if you call a local feed store and ask to take their loose hay home in your own garbage bags.
Other great backdrop and decoration items to give your party a truly country flair:
- Tractors: Full size tractors are great. Park one in front of a spooky backdrop, provide a few spotlights (white or colored) and decorate up the tractor a bit. Then use it as a photo booth for couples to take their picture. Have a polaroid or digital camera on hand for guests to use. You can email digital photos later and save money on the cost of developing pictures. Don’t forget to place one of those rats in a can that vibrate near the tractor seat or on the floor board. When guests bump the can you get some spooky or hilarious photos.
- Antique farm equipment, hand tools, cream cans, wagon wheels etc. Anything that looks like it belongs on a farm can be turned into something interesting. Cream cans make great vases for dead sunflowers! We once used an old grain grinder, added colored lights and stuck fake bloody arms and legs out the bottom. Guess the farmer fell into the grinder! OOPPPPSSS!
- Live animals. In our barn the cows occupy one end. We didn’t kick them out for the party. Instead, they happily joined in and added a real farm flair to the occasion. It was comical to watch them chewing on their cuds and watching all the people with wide eyes and perked ears. We don’t recommend live animals if you think your guests will try riding them later in the evening–for this reason our tempermental pig was not included in our party.
- Fence Panels: These are the absolute BEST thing to decorate a barn. They easily be used as backdrops, to separate different areas and fence off restricted areas. Fence panels are easy to move around. They connect easily with the pull and drop of two metal pins and you can then hinge them at any angle you please to create mazes, walkways, barriers, tunnels and all sorts of other uses. To make awesome backdrops using panels is very simple. Just weave whatever plants or natural vegetation through the fence panel rails. You can tie a piece of hemp rope from one end to the other to help support the plants if you necessary. Then weave in a few colored twinkly lights in purple, orange, white or whatever color you choose. Add a couple battery operated eyeballs for a seriously spooky effect and it looks like a cornstalk field with critters lurking at the edge.
- Wheel barrows loaded with pumpkins, squashes and fake body parts.
Use lots of colored lights and decorate areas with several large displays rather than a lot of small things scattered here and there. You have to think BIG when decorating a barn. Hang full-size sheets for ghosts from the rafters. Our gigantic purple spider is the most popular item and almost fills our entire loft. It is quite breath-taking looking up to see a giant spider creeping out of the loft.
Recalling an old TV show where the old folks were always sitting and watching the young people having a great time while they were in their pajamas and slippers, we created a couple grannies peering in on the fun while sitting in their loft bed. We used haybales to create a bed and covered it with a quilt. Then stuck the masks on stakes, slipped on nightgowns, stuffed them a bit with straw and made them sit upright in bed by stuffing the stick into the bale of hay. Slippers poking out the bottom of the quilt finished it off.
Stretch rope from the rafters to create spider webs or to hang chains from with skeletons hanging from it. Buying the super cheap scary creature masks work great because you can create a body out of old clothes, sheets, fabrics, netting, plastic, feedsacks and burlap bags and stuff with hay.
Use smoke machines at the barn entry doors or in a pinch you can use dry ice. Keep it away from children, pets and foolish adults.
Seating in a barn? Why haybales of course. You can make any shape and size furniture your heart desires using bales. Create a cozy, country seating area. Scatter a couple loose bales on the floor so guests can sit there and lean back on the bales or just make a couch and chairs for the seat, back and arms. A single bale makes a great table to place bowls of popcorn, chips, pretzels or other snack foods. As the night dwindles down and people tire of dancing our guests really gravitate towards the hay bales to relax and talk with each other.
Food tables are simple to make. Saw horses with a sheet of plywood covered in a decorative table cloth works well. Place the table near an electrical outlet. Run one or two surgers to the outlet and leave the surgers at the rear of the table so guests can plug in their crock pots of delicious potluck dishes. Potluck is the best way to go. You can also serve hot coffee, tea or hot apple cider. If you want to splurge, provide the meat for the party with a BBQ just outside the barn door. We do this and sometimes have a bonfire outdoors for guests who want to relax there or smoke cigarettes. NO Smoking allowed in the barn due to fire hazards. Put up signs and watch carefully for rule breakers. Keep your guests safe.
If alcoholic beverages are to be served it is best for each guest to bring their own alcohol to avoid liability and permit issues. Please don’t allow your guests to drink and drive and don’t allow anyone to drink unless they are legally of age to do so. Nobody wants to wake up from a great party to learn one of their friends didn’t make it home. Provide plenty of food and it is wise to provide a sleeping area for guests who overindulge. A camp trailer, tents, your home or even the hay bales make a good place to sleep it off.
Each year we create a different bar theme where the alcohol is placed during the party. Think of a clever catchy name for your bar, pub, saloon or whatever and burn it into a board and hang above the entry area. Bare Bones Pub, Coconut Concoctions with a tropical theme, Black Pearl for a pirate theme and other themes are fun. Keep it spooky, it is afterall still Halloween.
Most of all…have fun and get creative. There’s no limit and no way of doing Halloween decorations wrong–except one thing! You MUST require costumes and host a Halloween costume contest with prizes. Be sure to play the Monster Mash and make guests walk the aisle (or plank) as they show off their costumes during the contest.